Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Was Prologue, Is Now History............

As many of you know I am a history and old movie buff. I find it fascinating when the two interest meet as they did a month or so back.

So there I was, minding my own business sewing some leather wallets and about half way watching the tube. I saw that T.C.M. was going to show a movie titled "Here Comes The Navy" Filmed in 1934, it stared Pat O'Brian and James Cagney. I flipped it over and again about half way started watching it.

A short time later, my undivided attention was drawn to the T.V. when Pat O'Brian said to a woman he was on the screen with, " That's my ship, the Arizona"

One of my continuing and ongoing interest is research into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As most of you are aware, the U.S.S. Arizona was sunk in the attack and still sits on the bottom of the harbor, a tomb for most of her crew. So it was with a great deal of interest that I watched the movie which was filmed on the Arizona. What a beautiful ship she was.

Like most people, when someone says the name Arizona the picture that came to my mind is burnt and twisted wreckage surrounded by smoke. The number two turret protruding out of the water, the mast (for lack of a better term) leaning over and everything blackened by the fires that followed the massive explosion that sunk her. But watching this movie I was reminded that the Arizona was a living breathing thing. She was home to her crew and the ship was literally a floating city to provide the crew with everything they needed. It was interesting to watch the crew members sleeping in hammocks and having to sling them when bedding down and unslinging them when they got up for their watches. The majority of the people in the movie were real members of the Arizona crew and it showed. The various scenes of cleaning, scrubbing the decks, and other day in, day out duties as well as the battle drills has a ring of truth to them. The two seamen that Cagney and O'Brian portrayed worked in the number 2 turret serving the 14 inch guns. Again, this is the turret you see in photos that were taken after the attack. As an aside, in another twist, the sailor portrayed by Cagney transfers off the Arizona and into the "lighter than air" division and serves on board the U.S.S. Macon, one of the Navy's Aircraft carrying Dirigible. (In a strange twist of fate, the real U.S.S. Macon was lost with two of her crew members in a accident the year following the filming 1935.)

There is a pretty good chance that at least some of the crew who took part in the filming in 1934 were still on board on December 7th 1941. I wondered how many men that took part in the filming survived the attack.

So if you want to see what the U.S. Navy was like before World War II and what a fine ship the old Arizona was check out "Here Comes The Navy". It's well worth the effort.

1 comment:

DirtCrashr said...

My dad went to Annapolis with the son of the USS Macon's commander Wiley. He was family-friends when I was a kid and visited us overseas, his sister is still nearby - "Scroggy" passed away not too long ago. When the Macon went down off Monterey he was called into the Principal's office at Paly High School to be notified. Only two seamen perished, one from jumping way too-soon, the rest got aboard rescue boats - it floated in the water for a while I understand.
There's a good little museum here at Moffett Field...